December 21, 1986.
That was the last time the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on their home field — which, in those days, was Three Rivers Stadium. Bill Kenney was the Chiefs quarterback. It wouldn’t be until the following season that Todd Blackledge would start his last game for the Chiefs, which would be the last time a homegrown first-round quarterback started a game for the team until Patrick Mahomes started 2017’s last regular season game in Denver.
But the decades-long string of losses in Pittsburgh doesn’t really seem to faze Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. Speaking to the media on Wednesday, it was business as usual.
“You love the challenge,” he said. “They are a heck of a football team. That’s what you do this for. You love the opportunity to play against good teams and a great environment. We look forward to doing that. You have to control what you can control and that’s making sure that you focus in here [on] these next few days for preparation.”
When reminded of the long history of disappointing losses to the Steelers, Reid was matter-of-fact.
Andy Reid is ready for a fistfight in Pittsburgh. pic.twitter.com/aTM2AgtPFD— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) September 10, 2018
“Every game has been a little bit different, but the end result was that they won the game. When you play this crew, you have to play a complete game, you have to do it for four quarters. Given opportunities, you have to take advantage of opportunities on both sides of the ball and special teams. That normally is what differs a game when two good teams are playing each other. Eliminate some mistakes in certain places and you will be all right.”
Reid was also asked about a subject that has been raised by a number of people since last week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers — whether the young quarterback is taking too many risks when running the ball.
“Especially coming from a baseball background, he needs to get down a little sooner,” he responded. “That second baseman is coming on him hard a couple of times. He has to get down. And this crew here, they come at you a little bit. It was good for him to see it and feel it. That is something you don’t necessarily get in the preseason, and you don’t get in practice for sure. It was good for him to get it and learn to get down a little bit quicker.”
But using an example from baseball might not be an ideal way to make the point with Mahomes, as the Chiefs quarterback explained when it was his turn before the cameras.
“My dad said I’m the worst sliding baseball player he’s ever met,” he said. “It’s something I need to get down more, in general, it’s a long season and you have to find the time and place, of course. On a third-and-two, I kind of needed to get the first down, but there’s some times where there were first downs, where I could’ve slid and lived to play the next play and got the first down on the next one.”
Mahomes also said he feels prepared to face the Steelers pass rush for the first time.
“I feel like I get better and better with the blitz protection every single week,” he said. “It helps that we have good game plans. Coach (Andy) Heck, EB (Eric Bieniemy) and (Mike) Kafka always give me a precise plan on how to pick up the protections and that helps me out a ton. I know Pittsburgh does a lot of that stuff, that’s kind of their thing, but we’ve played them a lot in these last few years, and you can kind of look back at the tape of how they wanted to try to go against us and how to figure out ways to combat that.”
And Mahomes doesn’t feel that in the locker room, there is a sense of frustration about getting past the Steelers.
“I think guys are ready to go. It’s a brand new season, we’ve got a lot of guys that are hungry and want to get better every single week and this will be a great challenge in the early season to kind of get us going.”
Mahomes on whether he’ll be AFC offensive player of the week every week: “I don’t know about that. It helped that we had a lot of guys that played well for us on the offense. Tyreek (Hill) had a great game, the offensive line played really well and everybody just made plays. I’m glad I got the honor but it was kind of an offensive unit honor.”
Reid on Steelers linebacker T.J Ward, who was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week: “I thought every week he got better and better, as I looked at him last year. And then you look at him where he’s at now. Relentless player. Good family genes. [He and his brother J.J.] are both good players.”
Mahomes on the touchdown pass to Anthony Sherman against the Chargers: “I didn’t throttle back at all. I had to get it over that dude’s head so I let it go. Sherm, I mean he doesn’t get a lot of targets, he’s the fullback so he doesn’t get a lot of passing plays, but he has really good hands. I just put it out there. [He] had made that play all week and he made it in the game.”